Is dog yoga for real?
Even if you’ve been practicing downward dog for decades, you might not be aware that yoga with dogs is undoubtedly a thing… but could it be your thing?
Yoga is often practiced as sequences of stretches and balanced poses, some of which we’re still trying to master without face-planting (hello child’s pose). It’s known to promote mindfulness, flexibility, and tension release, which would be helpful for any pet owner. But as every owner also knows, sharing activities we love with our furry friends, especially activities that can help them on their own mobility journeys, can help us love them even more.
Dog yoga entered the scene as an exercise-class craze in the early 2000s and has been providing adorable photo-ops ever since. These classes claim to help dog-owning yogis develop a closer bond with their pets by inviting participants to stretch alongside them.
The question of whether or not your pup has the temperament to get their Zen on in a studio full of other dogs to sniff is probably troubling you right about now. Luckily, yoga with your dog is flexible (pun intended) and can be practiced wherever and however you want. And with social distancing guidelines being what they are right now, you’ll have plenty of time to practice at home before going to a studio.
Keep it light
It should go without saying, but when it comes to including your dog in your exercise routine, a sense of humor is key. When we include our pets in our favorite activities, we shouldn’t be striving for perfection; the goal is to appreciate and stimulate them in new ways. So, before you begin, loosen up (we hear that’s important for yoga anyway). Though we may have a lot to teach our dogs about yoga, be open to your pet teaching you as well.
An easy way to introduce your dog to yoga is to practice your yoga in the same room as them and allow them to observe (though we cannot guarantee you won’t get a few licks on the face during your sun salutations). Breathe deep and check in while you move through your poses. Reward their curiosity with a head scratch or a lap-sit.
When it comes to stretching out your four-legged friend, however, take care. Talk to your Banfield veterinarian team about your routine and about stretches that can promote pet mobility safely.
If you’re hesitant to go all-in on this pet-exercise craze, you can start even more slowly. On your next joint jog (or, for some of us during COVID-19, your next run-in-place in your apartment), try incorporating your favorite yoga stretches to warm up. Practice breathing deep and being mindful, and focus on checking in with your pooch and your surroundings.
If yoga can inform anything you do with your dog, it’s the ever-applicable wisdom: don’t force it. Stay open to life’s possibilities and to spontaneity (also the occasional wet nose), and your pet will thank you for it.